Can Las Vegas Evolve Into a True Sports Town?

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Apr 14, 2019; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Vegas Golden Knights right wing Mark Stone (61) reacts after being named first star in game three of the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the San Jose Sharks at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Prior to May of 2018, Nevada was the only state in the country that could offer legal betting on sports. Most notably, Las Vegas was the biggest sports betting market in that state.

During this era, retail sportsbooks, such as FanDuel and Draftkings, were a staple in every major Las Vegas casino resort. Yet, actual professional sports teams had no interest in entering this market. This was before sports betting became legal on a state by state basis.

Major sports leagues such as the NFL actively lobbied against legal sports betting for years. Now that the cat is out of the bag (so to speak), these same leagues have embraced legal sports betting through multiple marketing sponsorships with US sportsbooks, including William Hill.

The change in attitude has been a boon to Las Vegas as a sports town in general. Betting on the games is still as big as ever. However, the addition of three professional sports franchises has elevated this gambling town’s status with sports fans all across the country.

The NHL blazed the trail with the Vegas Golden Knights. This addition received a huge boost when the team went all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2018 during its inaugural season.

The WNBA joined the fold with the addition of the Las Vegas Aces. The team just posted the best record in the league this past season.

Las Vegas stepped into the spotlight of the sports world with the addition of the NFL’s Raiders this year. Playing in both Los Angeles and Oakland since the team’s inception in 1960, this became one of the highest profile teams in the league.

The Raiders may have solidified Las Vegas’s claim as a legitimate sports town but that could be cemented with the arrival of a NBA and MLB franchise.

This is truly a metropolitan center with more than 2.3 million residents. T-Mobile Arena and the brand new Allegiant Stadium are first-class sports venues.

The overall economic infrastructure is big enough to support a NBA and MLB team. The early success of the existing professional teams could be a driving force in making this a four-sport town.

Local fans have completely embraced the Golden Knights through their first four seasons. T-Mobile Arena routinely sells out for every home game. The waiting list for season tickets extends into the thousands.

The WNBA may attract a niche audience but the Aces’ recent success has helped to build a solid base of support.

The Raiders brought their vast legion of fans to the table to further boost their early success. Of the 62,500 seats at Allegiant Stadium, all but 4,000 are tied up through seat licenses. That was by design to keep some tickets for the general public.

The NBA and MLB are obviously taking notes. Both have expressed an interest in relocating a team to Las Vegas. The Charlotte Hornets and the Memphis Grizzlies are two NBA possibilities due to poor attendance in their current markets. The Oakland Athletics could possibly follow the Raiders to Sin City somewhere down the road.

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